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January 4, 2017

Staying with my in-laws in Sunbury, today we took a trip about 65 miles NE to Holmes county, deep in the heart of Amish country. It's beautiful land, with rolling hills, sere fallow fields, and skeletal winter woods the sun danced through as we wound down the two-lane blacktop. In Millersburg we bought a 100-year-old coffee grinder in a store where the thousands of antique tools were being sold to be used. The Mennonite proprietor took his time talking and had a charming way of saying ren-ahv-iation for renovation, a word he was partial to. Father-in-law Bill was looking for some heavy leather to upholster a chair and we were directed to a buggy store where they made harnesses, crops, and all the other accoutrements in a small factory in back of the shop. He was thrilled to get a roll of what he needed for $16, cash or check only. With common roots but slightly divergent doctrines, there's a spectrum from Amish to Mennonite, with the latter more accepting of modern tools and ways. We learned a little about that by taking the guided tour of the Behalt Cyclorama, a slightly psychedelic 265-foot circular mural which retells their 500 year history. I asked if they get many converts. There's much about their community-centered, self-sufficient, techno-skeptical lifestyle that appeals to me. The farms are so pretty and it's refreshing to see people walking about, even in the cold. The fundamentalist Bible interpretation is a turn-off, though.